We’re sitting in our hotel room and my husband is glaring at the computer and muttering complaints.
You see I say “the” computer. Actually, it’s my computer My husband’s own laptop got squashed under his footrest on the flight over here. It now sports a lot of wiggly bright lights and a black blot straight out of a Dali painting. He’s still chapped about it, but has made up for it by hogging my computer a lot of the time. That’s marriage for you.
But right now, he’s enraged with the hotel’s Internet service. Which strikes me as crazy, I tell him. You come to Italy for the food and the stunning scenery and the design; you do not come to Italy for the efficiency.
“They just sent somebody up here to fix it,” he says. “He had a phone line. Not a computer line.”
So, my husband had marched down to the desk to straighten them out about high-tech concerns. “I wasn’t snotty,” he reported. “But the woman got all defensive, anyway.”
Oh, sure, I think. I know what my husband is like when he’s “not being snotty” about high-tech matters; he usually comes across as being — what would the word be? — oh, yes! “I bet you were patronizing as hell,” I say.
He ignores me. I wonder why he is focusing on something so unimportant when — thanks to him — I am quite traumatized. When we got to the hotel, I had hopped on the scales. I knew I’d been packing away the pasta and the limoncello (my new drink of choice: it’s sweet; it’s alcoholic; I’m in love). So I just wanted an idea of how things were going.
“What’s the conversion from kilograms to pounds?” I asked my husband.
“Two point five four,” he said with an air of authority.
Two point five four? I did the math. Then I had to sit down. I never weighed that much even when I was ten months’ pregnant with my firstborn. “There’s no way that can be right,” I said.
“Yes, it is,” he said.
“Can’t be.” If we had the Internet, I could look it up. But we don’t. I open my Italian-English book and look under “health.” They talk about all kinds of really insignificant details like hospital emergencies and the translation for “I believe my liver has just failed and I need a transplant.” But nothing about a vital issue such as, How much, exactly, is a kilogram in real weight? Some health section.
My husband heads downstairs with my computer in a death-grip. He’s going back to talk to the woman behind the desk about the hotel’s joining the 21st century, he announces. I can hardly wait.
In the meantime, I sit in the room, doing a variety of calculations. Even though my husband is a scientist and always remarkably sure of himself, this 2.54 business is clearly in error. It is unacceptable. I compute my weight at 2.44: Still unacceptable. 2.34: better, but not great. Unless, say, I want to spend the rest of our time in Italy on a bread-and-water diet.
Finally, I trudge downstairs to the lobby, where my husband is commandeering my computer. There’s Internet in the lobby, as it turns out. Through a combination of sighs and guilt-inducing remarks, I finally wrest it away from him.
There, I find that my old email account has been hacked. On the way back to the room, I get stranded in the elevator and realize my Italian is insufficient to convey: “Help! I’m claustrophobic!” Finally, I extricate myself and head upstairs. A bit of bad luck — and all that.
But the good news is: The conversion from kilograms to pounds is two point two. My weight is fine, my trip is saved. I can hardly wait to tell my husband it’s a damned good thing he didn’t try to convert it with pi.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)